The Big Six's greed-fuelled Super League plot spells out loyal fans' true value
'These fans don't matter. The sad fact is, at the heart of the plan is the belief that even if some supporters cut ties with the clubs they have devoted so much of their lives to following, someone else will be there to take their place.'
Occasionally, there are times in the life of every football supporter - usually for a day or two after your team suffers a particularly bad result - where you question it all. Why, when there are far bigger, much more important things in this world to spend our time worrying about, should football matter quite so much as it does? Think how much better all our lives might have turned out had it not occupied our minds quite as much as it did, not stolen more weekends from us than we could ever possibly count. Think of the good we could do with all that time if it were magically given back to us.
And yet here we are. It's too late now, for all of us. We're in this for good: hopelessly, pathetically emotionally invested in it all, Saturdays and Sundays arranged around ever-shifting kick-off times, moods influenced by the performance of a set of players we worship but who will never know our names.
We know when we take a step back and look at it that it's irrational, of course, but we're all in too deep now, driven on by a sense that somehow, part of this still belongs to us.
It doesn't, of course. And if the events of the last few years hadn't already made that abundantly clear, news of a new Super League, surreptitiously organised by those in charge of 12 of Europe's wealthiest clubs, should drive the message home to those not yet aware.
🗣 "I would be ashamed to support one of these clubs right now."
❗️"If there's any chance to stop this, they have to hit them hard, now." @waynefarry, @ReubenPinder and @smnllyd5 on why the Super League is an insult to the very nature of competitive sport pic.twitter.com/VUMbElOf3X
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) April 19, 2021
It is - and let's not sugarcoat it - a fucking sham: a shiny new 'competition' which nobody asked for, dreamed up by an already supremely wealthy set of individuals with the sole intention of making even more money for themselves.
Despite the almost laughable words of Joel Glazer - stepping out from the shadows to reveal he is, in fact, an authoritative voice on the football pyramid - it's difficult to see how its emergence won't drastically widen the gap between the elite and the smaller clubs, many of which continue to struggle with the financial impact of the pandemic.
Clearly, there are many, many things to be angry about here, but pick through the details and the complete and utter contempt shown towards the fanbases of the clubs involved is one of the more maddening aspects. There's an acceptance that, yes, a vast majority of lifelong fans will not like it and, hell, may even boycott or never attend another game... but it doesn't matter.
These fans don't matter. The sad fact is, at the heart of the plan is the belief that even if some supporters cut ties with the clubs they have devoted so much of their lives to following, someone else will be there to take their place. Suck it up, or move on. You're not needed.
Reports that some of those involved are already using terms like "legacy fans" to describe long-standing supporters only adds to the sense that a newer breed of fan is desired now. Traditional fanbases may be eroded to the point of oblivion, but millions more will be wooed by the prospect of regular games between some of football's stellar names. Money is money - it doesn't matter if those paying it still have their old match programmes from the 1970s tucked away in the loft; it's still worth the same when it comes from someone who declared themselves a supporter last week.
For many of these fans, this should be an epiphany moment. We're all hardwired to blindly follow our clubs through thick and thin, but this is enough to jolt even the most ardent of supporter into seriously contemplating what it's all about. The sheer arrogance behind this move, the brazen disregard for history, tradition and the people who care most about the clubs involved is a sign of the sorry state in which football finds itself.
No matter how many times we've heard how football is nothing without fans these past few months, that is only true from a financial point of view. It's been this way for some time, obviously, but never before have we been presented with such a callous, unsubtle example of how little they actually matter.
Whether you stick around for what comes next, it doesn't really matter. It will happen anyway and you are powerless to stop it.